Review: Hosanna (Soulpepper)

HosannaSoulpepper tackles classic Michel Tremblay play in Toronto

It’s Halloween, and Montreal drag queen Hosanna has just returned home from a party in near-tears, still dressed as Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra. Her biker boyfriend, aging stud Cuirette, is not far behind. What ensues during Soulpepper’s production of Hosanna, written by Michel Tremblay (and translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco), is a little over two hours of claustrophobic emotional drama that examines the boundaries between gender and sexual desire, aging anxieties, and—perhaps most importantly—the terror of facing who we truly are once unmasked. Continue reading Review: Hosanna (Soulpepper)

Playlistings in Toronto for the Week of September 26th

Shows That Caught Our Eye in Toronto the Week of September 26th.

There’s a great selection of themes to choose from on stage this week in Toronto: Burlesque! Comedy! Politics! A whole lot of musicals! And much, much more. We have a huge list this week, but don’t worry: Our Publisher Meghan is here to help you choose by picking out her most-anticipated shows in red text.

Continue reading Playlistings in Toronto for the Week of September 26th

Review: Hot Kitchen/SECOND SHIFT (Raw Matter/Filament Incubator)

Hot Kitchen

Raw Matter and Filament Incubator bring lofty feminist goals to the stage in Toronto’s Kensington Market

Hot Kitchen/SECOND SHIFT by Raw Matter and presented by Filament Incubator, is a devised work of theatre, on stage at Kensington Hall. It’s a mashup of works by Jean Genet, Sylvia Plath and Silvia Federici that has something to say about feminism, housewifery, and the choices that women make (or have forced upon them).

It is visually inventive, often charming, and features at least one stand-out performance. However, its aggressively didactic nature and its period piece trappings cause it to fall just short of its lofty goals of current relevance and rawness.

Continue reading Review: Hot Kitchen/SECOND SHIFT (Raw Matter/Filament Incubator)

Kid+1 Review: One Thing Leads To Another (Young People’s Theatre)

Young People Theatre’s colourful stage show “transfixed” Toronto babies and toddlers alike

You might imagine that a show for babies would be boring for anyone else, but that idea would be based on the conventional wisdom: that shows like One Thing Leads To Another at Young People’s Theatre would be simplified or dumbed down versions of a longer narrative. The genius of One Thing Leads To Another is that it’s colourful and joyful and contains perfect baby-logic — as evidenced by the fact that an entire room of babies and toddlers were transfixed by it, to the point that some of them (like mine, ahem) had to be physically restrained from joining the fun on the stage.

Continue reading Kid+1 Review: One Thing Leads To Another (Young People’s Theatre)

Review: Aftermath (Waterworks Company)

Photo of Helena Levitt as Andrea DworkinAftermath, now on stage in Toronto, is intense and challenging

In 1999, feminist activist and writer Andrea Dworkin was drugged and raped in Paris. Aftermath, adapted for the stage by Adam Thorburn from from an unpublished work of Dworkin’s, produced by Waterworks Company and playing at the Aki Studio, is her story in her own words.

This is not an easy production to watch, and it’s even harder to forget.

Continue reading Review: Aftermath (Waterworks Company)

Blind Date (Buddies In Bad Times)

julie-orton-in-blind-date-by-connie-tsang-1Blind Date is sweet and engaging, on stage in Toronto

In Blind Date, currently onstage at Buddies In Bad Times, a clown selects a member of the audience to play the role of their blind date. This is the queer version of the original concept by Rebecca Northan. On opening night the clown in question was Mimi (Julie Orton), who invited another woman to join her onstage; on some nights it will be Mathieu (David Benjamin Tomlinson) who is expected to choose a man. This is a binary conception of gender and sexual orientation, but the site does say they are open to trans and genderqueer dates, and there has been talk of a nonbinary clown in future productions. Regardless of the complexities of identity, the show is extremely fun, and surprisingly touching.

Continue reading Blind Date (Buddies In Bad Times)

what it’s like (adelheid / The Theatre Centre)

what_its_like_photoAdelheid’s what it’s like is an “extremely ambitious” immersive experience, on stage now in Toronto

Adelheid‘s what it’s like – on stage now at The Theatre Centre – is one of those shows that leaves me both exhilarated and totally bewildered as to what to say about it. As is typical of The Theatre Centre, calling it a performance feels stingy.

what it’s like was an engaging, immersive experience. It aims to bring us, the audience, into a shared space, to both witness and challenge our notions of comfort, agency, responsibility, complicity, and brotherhood. I’m not sure that’s what happened, but I am sure it was a pretty incredible night.

Continue reading what it’s like (adelheid / The Theatre Centre)

Review: Salt (Lark and Whimsy)

salt-petal-promo-largeSalt tackles mental illness with complexity and nuance, on stage in Toronto

Salt is a beautiful and harrowing portrayal of mental illness and abuse by Toronto-based playwright Erin Vandenberg. It’s being put on in the Alumnae Theatre by the Lark & Whimsy Theatre Collective. I had no idea what to expect going into this new two-hour drama, but was and still am completely taken by it.

Continue reading Review: Salt (Lark and Whimsy)

Review: Tideline (Canadian Rep Theatre and ENSEMBLE)

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Tideline, on stage now in Toronto, is beautifully performed and not shy about politics

Tideline is a poetic, demanding play, beautifully performed at the Hart House Theatre at the University of Toronto. What seems like a simple family drama — a story in which a young man’s distant father suddenly passes and the son finds out family secrets — quickly turns into a hard-to-watch journey that takes us to a post-war desolate landscape. Written by Lebanon-born Wajdi Mouawad, translated by Shelley Tepperman and directed by Ken Gass, Tideline explores the impact of the atrocities of war on youth. Continue reading Review: Tideline (Canadian Rep Theatre and ENSEMBLE)